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03.16.09

Entire Nation of Estonia Was Downed by Microsoft Windows Zombies

Posted in Deception, Europe, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Security, Windows at 5:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Estonia's flag

Summary: Estonia a victim of Windows botnets, Conficker set to explode, the media distorts stories, and Microsoft fails to patch properly

GIVEN THAT almost 1 in 2 Windows PCs is a zombie, it’s not exactly a surprise that nations get paralysed every now and then. This is not a “computer problem” but a “Windows problem”, even if the Microsoft-influenced press neglects to mention some of these crucial details.

Some time ago we mentioned the damage caused to Estonia by Windows zombies. According to this report from Heise, kids too are empowered by the ease at which Windows can be hijacked, due to poor engineering.

Russian youth movement claims to have carried out cyber attacks on Estonia

[...]

“We taught the Estonian regime the lesson that if they act illegally, we will respond in an adequate way,” boasted Goloskokov in the FT interview. They didn’t do anything illegal, he said. “We just visited the various internet sites, over and over, and they stopped working.” The Estonians’ plight was caused by their own technological limitations in handling the traffic volume, he explained. During the attacks on the Estonian IT infrastructure two years ago, the country was largely cut off from the global internet, and domestic government and banking sites became inaccessible.

As we keep stating, Conficker is far from over and in fact it’s scheduled to exacerbate. IDG has this report:

The third Conficker malware variant in infected machines is set to activate April 1, says the director of threat research at CA where the malware sample first discovered last week by Symantec is being examined.

“It’s set to go off April 1, 2009 and Conficker will generate 50,000 URLS daily,” says Don DeBolt, CA’s director of threat research.

This is neither a joke nor a prank, despite the date.

We already know that Microsoft bothers journalists who criticise Windows for poor security. It does make a difference.

There is a bothersome pattern in media coverage where reporters/editors are somehow spinning Conficker to make Microsoft seem like the good guy, the brave cowboy (for example, see this and this). Microsoft’s sloppiness is responsible for these attacks, but parts of the press portray Microsoft as the white knight, a hero that protects the unwashed crowds from a problem of its own making. The same thing happens in Facebook where Microsoft is attributed with “fighting” those evil worms, but how come no-one is asking why these worms exist in the first place? UNIX/Linux users don't have these problems.

Lastly, regarding Microsoft’s patches to vulnerabilities, these turn out to be flawed too.

Recent Microsoft patch useless if previously exploited (Update 2)

[...]

Tyler Reguly, a researcher on nCircle’s VERT team, recently made a post to the company blog that reported a unique discovery. The patch issued by Microsoft on Tuesday to address Man-In-The-Middles attacks on Windows DNS and WINS (MS09-008) is flawed. The flaw is that if a system was exploited before the patch was applied, it remained exploited. The fix didn’t work.

Why won’t journalist make a mention of secure platforms like GNU/Linux?

More on Conficker:

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